Is your small business looking to hire new employees this year? Whether your company is hoping to fill a recently-vacated position or needs to hire a whole new team, these nine small business hiring practices can help you attract, vet, and retain better new hires for years to come.
Tip 1: Know your company’s short-term and long-term goals
Before you even begin to search for new employees, set aside some time to flesh out your business’s short and long-term goals. By identifying current and future needs, your business can ensure all prospective hires are good fits today and five years later.
This is important because, ideally, your employees will stay with your company for longer than a year or two. Your newest employees should be able to help your business achieve both short-term and long-term goals.
What kind of goals should your business identify? As an example, an HVAC company may set goals like these:
- Respond to customers sooner
- Optimize the daily schedule
- Find the right inventory software
- Expand operations to an additional county
- Partner with leading new home builders
- Secure contracts with large office buildings
Tip 2: Understand exactly what help your business needs
Many small businesses decide what position to hire before knowing precisely what their company is missing. Instead of assuming your business needs a receptionist or a manager, start by listing what essential tasks and responsibilities are not currently being performed by your existing team.
For example, that HVAC company’s list of challenges may look like this:
- Nobody is receiving and checking in orders quickly enough
- Trucks are a mess
- Nobody answers the phone
- There’s no time to market the business
- Our books are never reconciled on time
Keep building your list until you’ve exhausted every paint point, then determine what types of employees would best alleviate these frustrations. You should also keep this list of challenges handy for interviews and goal-setting sessions.
Related: When to Hire an Inventory Manager
Tip 3: Write a better job description
Now that you know what you’re really looking for, sit down and craft a stellar job description. The best job descriptions should:
- Be anchored by an accurate, industry-standard job title
- Offer a short but meaningful description of your business, its products and services, and its values
- List role responsibilities in clear, active language
- Provide context regarding the employee’s future day-to-day tasks, the teams they will work alongside, and the projects they will take on
- List any necessary qualifications and job-related skills
- Articulate pay, benefits, and other developmental opportunities
Remember that a short, precise, and friendly job posting is almost always the best bet.
Tip 4: Look beyond traditional hiring websites
Your small business will almost certainly use traditional hiring websites to connect with potential employees, but there are other ways to find new hires worth exploring. From asking current employees for referrals to tapping into your old network of colleagues, your business should keep its eyes and ears open for great hires.
Some small businesses rely on professional recruiters to fill positions, too. If you’re not having luck with inbound hiring methods, consider bringing on a recruiter who specializes in your professional field.
Tip 5: Think past the perfect resume
One of the best-kept small business hiring tips? The best hire doesn’t always have the best resume. So unless you’re hiring a graphic designer, a copywriter, or a professional organizer, you’ll want to look for more than a perfectly-formatted resume or an expertly-written cover letter. If writing or other forms of professional communication are not part of the job they’ll be doing, you’re better off focusing on the substance of the resume rather than the style.
Review each resume against that list of your business’s pain points. How many of those challenges would this particular candidate alleviate? Instead of letting your first glance at their resume determine which applicants receive an interview, focus on which candidates genuinely meet your business’s needs. Look for proven experience, detailed accounts of problem solving (supported by data where possible), and enthusiasm above all.
Tip 6: Improve your interviewing skills
Once you’ve decided what candidates to interview, you’ll want to ensure you facilitate the best conversation possible by brushing up on your interviewing skills. While there are countless ways to improve your interviewing skills, start by considering these tips and tricks:
- Make a little small talk at the beginning—a nervous interviewee could be a great hire, so give them some time to warm up.
- Familiarize yourself with a candidate before the interview so your conversation can focus on digging deeper rather than covering the basics.
- Ask open-ended questions.
- Listen actively and as much as possible.
- Take detailed notes during the interview, especially if you’re interviewing many candidates in a short amount of time. Write down their answers, your impressions, and anything else that sticks out to you.
- Leave them plenty of time at the end to ask questions. What they ask can tell you a lot about what they’re looking for and what they value!
Tip 7: Extend a solid offer
Once you’ve decided what candidate you’d like to hire for your business’s open position, it’s time to extend a formal offer.
When making an offer to an applicant, you should clearly articulate that you’re making an offer of employment, whether verbally or in writing. The offer should be personal—and reflect your company’s excitement to welcome this candidate to the team. You’ll want to be upfront and direct about job title, responsibilities, compensation, schedule, benefits, time-off and leave policies, and key company contacts. Be prepared to negotiate and know ahead of time how high your business is willing to go for a given applicant.
Tip 8: Ensure your business is ready for new hires on day one
Before your new employee’s first day, verify that all required resources are available. From laptops to equipment to software to a clean workspace, try to create a welcoming, organized environment for your new hire.
For example, if your employee will be using a computer, ensure all software—from accounting to inventory management to scheduling—is installed, licensed, and ready for use.
Tip 9: Once you hire, train right away—and little by little
Once you’ve hired a new employee and gathered all the resources they need for their first day, create the time and space to train them immediately. This is a sign of respect toward the new hire and an excellent opportunity to set this employee up for success. Of course, much of that training can occur on the job, too. Figure out a balance that works for your entire team—including the strengths and weaknesses of your newest employee.
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